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By Donna Cipolloni Tester staff writer

Tax season is here and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) center, located in the legal office at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, is open for business now through April 15, providing free electronic self-service tax preparation and filing.

There is no cost to file a federal return or up to three state returns.

“We can save you anywhere from $15 to $125 in tax preparation fees when you file your basic taxes here,” said Chief Legalman Stacey Mincey, “and there will be IRS-trained and certified volunteer tax assistants available for help during the filing process.”

Aviation Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Shawn Adkins, from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, is one of those volunteers.

“The service is mostly geared toward our junior troops so they can save some money filing their tax returns [and eliminate the guesswork] by being able to ask questions,” he said. “Through the years, I always had a lot of questions about what this or that meant when I was filling out my own return. Volunteering for this program gave me the opportunity to learn more about taxes and I feel I’m way more informed. Anyone needing assistance with the process or having a question about their taxes can ask a volunteer for help.”

Some of the basic information VITA volunteers can provide includes special tax credits a person may qualify for such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or Disabled.

The Navy’s VITA/Electronic Tax Filing (ELF) service, accessed through Military OneSource, is available to all active-duty military, Guard and Reservist and their dependents authorized in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, commonly referred to as DEERS. Members retain these benefits for up to six months after they separate or retire from the military.

“Individuals with more complex taxes or tax needs beyond the scope of the self-assistance program may be referred elsewhere,” Mincey said.

The VITA/ELF center is located in Building 409, Room 219, with services by appointment only. A completed VITA intake form is required and is available at the legal office.

“When people contact us for an appointment, we’ll email them an advance reminder of what information and paperwork will be necessary for them to bring along to complete their tax return,” Adkins said. “It’s a pretty smooth process.”
VITA/ELF hours: 8:30-11:30 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday by appointment only. Call 301-342-7643.